Braun asked to apologize over 'crack' accusation

January 31, 2011 3:22:19 PM PST
Chicago mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins is demanding rival Carol Moseley Braun apologize for accusing her of being "strung out on crack."

At the same time, Braun supporters, including congressmen Danny Davis and Bobby Rush, have asked Chicago Police to investigate the Watkins campaign's political tactics.

"I would like an apology, I believe I'm due an apology," Watkins said Monday. "But I don't expect one to come."

The reporters and cameras showed up Monday, finally, to hear Watkins talk about her exchange Sunday with Carol Moseley Braun during a candidates forum. Watkins wanted to know why Braun dropped out of public life for seven years before last fall.

"I did not even know the woman lived in the City of Chicago, because I haven't heard her voice on the street," Watkins said Sunday.

That's when Braun made reference to Watkins' admitted struggle with substance abuse during the 1970s.

"Patricia, just because you didn't know who I was for the last seven years is because you were on crack," said Braun.

"I should be able to ask any person that's running for office 'Where you been?' And I should not be called a crack addict because I said that," Watkins said Monday.

Braun made no further comment Monday. Sunday night, demonstrators carrying Watkins campaign signs protested outside an event Braun attended at a West Side church. The protesters followed the candidate into the meeting only to be escorted out by Chicago Police.

Meanwhile, candidate Gery Chico is trying to make an issue of Rahm Emanuel's proposal to expand the sales tax to some services.

Chicago accused Emanuel's campaign of sending demonstrators to the fitness center where Chico appeared Monday afternoon and of intimidating the owner of another gym where Chico had tried to hold the news conference.

"I'm really more concerned about the tactics used to call these storeowners, these gym owners and try to make them fearful about taking a position," said Chico.

An Emanuel campaign spokesman called the Chico intimidation charge "a gross mischaracterization," adding, "We will continue to communicate not only with business owners but with all Chicagoans to make sure they have the facts about Rahm's plan to lower taxes for working families."

The demonstrators outside the Chico news conference admitted to being Emanuel supporters but insisted they were not on a political payroll.

"You're asking who we're sent by. We're not sent by them...We're just concerned Chicago voters," said Eric Phillips, demonstrator.

Emanuel was unavailable to comment Monday on Gery Chico's intimidation charge. Emanuel's only public event happened before Chico's news conference.

Clearly, the campaign's intensity level has increased considerably during the past 24 hours. And it coincides, naturally, with Monday's onset of early voting.